The Visionary’s Curse

It’s not easy being green, as Kermit the frog would tell you. But what if being green is simply your nature? You can’t change it, hide it, wish yourself into being something you’re not. For the INFJ, it’s not easy being a visionary, and this is often our blessing and our curse. We are visionaries in two ways: one, we envision what we want in the world, either for ourselves or others, and this is often based on an ideal that is likely not attainable; and two, due to our introverted intuition (Ni) we subconsciously process environmental clues that others miss, and so our “predictions” tend to be uncannily correct more often than not.

Both of these versions of visionary are incredibly frustrating. Real life, real people, real jobs, real socio-political systems rarely live up to our ideals, and so we become frustrated at the perceived failings of the world, and in our apparent inability to overcome them through some herculean solo effort. And life for us can sometimes feel like watching a slow-motion train wreck. We can see the collision coming, we can anticipate the carnage, but we don’t seem to have any ability to change the situation. So we watch as events unfold more or less along the lines that we “predicted”, and in the end we don’t even have the satisfaction of an “I told you so”, because by that point it’s all moot, and pointing out the fact that you were indeed correct will also not change the current situation, nor will it incentivize people to listen to you next time.

This foreknowledge can give us an advantage of course, if we are able to take action that enables us, our loved ones, our tribe, etc to avoid the worst outcomes of a pending disaster, but this can be difficult as well, to get your loved ones to go along with you, especially if the changes needed are drastic, or even mildly inconvenient. The people-pleasing and conflict-avoiding aspects of the INFJ also mean that in the case where we cannot pull our loved ones to safety by getting them to make some kind of change, we may just knowingly enter into the disaster area along with our loved ones, and accept the predictable results when they come. This sounds nihilistic, but the INFJ sees it as a necessary self-sacrifice. They also know that when the negative consequences they predicted do start to materialize, their loved ones will eventually come to the same conclusion themselves, and then decisive action can be taken.

INFJs learn to live with this curse of the visionary through various coping mechanisms, which unfortunately often manifests as cynicism and a reluctance to even try to “warn” humanity of their impending doom, or something less dramatic like warn their friend that their new love interest is going to be very bad news. INFJs are already a mystery to everyone else on the planet, and even to themselves sometimes, but the fact that we are so often misunderstood only causes us to close up more, which some argue only deprives the world of our unique gifts… But really, there are many times where I don’t think the world actually deserves the unique gifts I have to offer, and so I keep them to myself until I find the right set of circumstances to unleash them.

INFJs are the rarest personality type on the planet, by a wide margin, and we literally see and interact with the world differently than almost everyone else. In order to live in such a world, we have to find ways of expressing ourselves that do not trigger our defenses; we have to find ways of sharing our gifts with the world without causing us to retreat from it. Many aspects of our personality seem like a curse and a blessing. I for one have come to enjoy my ability to “know” things before they play out in real life, and to astonish those who will listen to me. It’s still frustrating, because I do want to avoid the coming train wreck, and I just can’t seem to get anyone’s attention to help me change the scene. And I’m learning to let go of the ideal and embrace the ideal-but-slightly-less reality, especially where my own work is concerned. Perfectionism is not aspirational, it’s detrimental to actual progress and growth.

Be strong fellow INFJs – the world needs us, even if it doesn’t have a frickin clue.


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